PALMERDALE — It’s not every day a new road is built.
Especially a 52-mile corridor that will link north Jefferson County and parts of Blount County with the more heavily developed area south of Interstates 20 and 59.
When the Northern Beltline is complete, it will form the upper half of a loop around Birmingham, linking with Interstate 59 near Argo and with Interstate 459 at McCalla.
Gov. Robert Bentley and numerous other officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new interstate Monday in Palmerdale.
“This highway will not wear out. It’s going to be here for generations and generations and generations,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills.
It will also be a generation or so before the interstate is finished; the project is scheduled to be completed in segments over at least 35 years.
Nevertheless, the kicking off of the project is a cause for celebration among many in the area.
“This is a great day,” said Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips. “The Northern Beltline is going to be the catalyst that opens up north Jefferson County.”
Many officials who spoke during the hour-long ceremony reiterated that point; the highway is expected to open the door to more development and thus, jobs.
“It’s a great day for all of the communities out here,” Morris Mayor Joe Pylant said. “We can all benefit from this. Traffic is going to be better and there will be more job opportunities.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight, who represents north Jefferson County, agreed that the highway will bring business opportunities.
“We as a county better get busy and build the infrastructure out here,” he said. “That’s my goal.”
The first leg of the project will be a 1.3-mile section that will connect Alabama highways 79 and 75 north of Pinson. The first segment is expected to be complete by fall 2016.